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TPWD Looking at Series of Deer Management Proposals
AUSTIN, Texas — With only about one percent of the total land mass in Texas being managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, wildlife conservation will have to happen on private land to be successful in Texas.
Providing private landowners and wildlife managers with the freedom and flexibility to effectively manage wildlife on their property is one of the benchmark priorities in TPWD’s Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan, designed to guide the agency’s long-range efforts.
One of the ways TPWD assists private landowners with resource conservation is through agency-approved wildlife management plans. Currently, about 14.5 million acres of private property operate under such plans.
Among Texas’ most prized natural assets is the white-tailed deer and while many other wildlife species benefit from proper habitat conservation measures, a majority of wildlife management plans are tailored to address the needs of deer.
And as deer management strategies evolve, TPWD recognizes the need to adjust and amend the guidelines to allow land managers to be more efficient and effective stewards. This spring, the agency is looking at a series of proposed changes based upon recommendations from the TPW Commission’s White-tailed Deer Advisory Committee. Following is a summary of those recommendations, which are up for comment right now in a series of public hearings going on around the state.
- Eliminate "Dual Tagging Requirements" — This proposal is designed to simplify complex and redundant tagging requirements for deer taken by specified permit, such as during certain public drawn hunts or on managed properties having deer permits. Only the special permit tag would be required, not the corresponding tag from a valid hunting license. Additionally, this proposal would eliminate personal bag limits and the requirement to complete the harvest log on the back of the hunting license for deer taken under authority of the specified permits.
- Extend Season Length for Level II and III MLDPs (Managed Lands Deer Permit) — The current ending date for Level II and III MLDPs varies depending upon the region of the state. Additionally, many MLDP properties also utilize Antlerless Deer Control Permits which are valid through the last day in February. A consistent "ending date" at the end of February for harvest permits will reduce confusion and allow for enhanced opportunities to achieve harvest objectives.
- A one-year suspension for properties that exceed the harvest quota in a Wildlife Management Plan — This proposal would provide a penalty for properties that fail to follow harvest guidelines but continue to work under a WMP and collect necessary data.
- Allow the "inconsequential release" of deer taken under the Trap, Transport and Transplant (TTT) permit program — This proposal would allow for more than a one-time only inconsequential release of up to one deer per 200 acres at a frequency not to exceed one release every four years, and allow for an inconsequential release at change in ownership of the property.
- TTT Site inspection exemptions — Allow Level II MLDP properties (in addition to Level III properties) to qualify for "no site inspection release of TTT deer," if the Level II property can provide data equivalent to Level III requirements, and the total number of deer, after release, does not exceed the number specified in the WMP.
- Eliminate the limit on the number of deer that can be removed from a Level II or III MLDP property prior to the importation of additional deer — This change would allow landowners more flexibility in the number of deer they can import to their property without negative implications to plant communities.
- Require that all buck deer moved by TTT permit have antlers removed prior to transport — Current TTT rules require bucks to have the antlers removed prior to transport unless the movement takes place between Feb. 10 and March 31. This proposal would ensure that antlered bucks are not moved during an open season, particularly if the Level II and III MLDP season is extended through the last day of February.
- Allow buck deer to be included in TTT activities that are authorized for inconsequential purposes or for sites that do not require a site inspection — TTT activities are authorized at "inconsequential levels" or at levels prescribed in a wildlife management plan in order to protect plant communities from over-browsing. The sex of the animal is irrelevant to this point.
Comments about these proposals and others being considered by TPWD may be made online at (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/) or in writing to: TPWD Public Comment, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744.
A series of 19 public hearings began March 8 and continues through March 24. The public is encouraged to attend and make comment at any of the following remaining meetings. All hearings start at 7 p.m.:
- Franklin — March 23, Robertson County Courthouse.
- Longview — March 25, Gregg County Service Center, 405 East Marshall (Hwy 80).
- Midland — March 22, Old Midland County Tax Office, 709 W. Washington St.
- Palestine — March 22, Ben E. Keith Building, 2019 W. Oak.
- Rusk — March 24, Cherokee County Courthouse, 502 N. Main.
- Southlake — March 22, Southlake Courthouse, 1400 Main St., Room B, 3rd Floor.
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